Boys soccer quarterfinals. Minneapolis Southwest vs. Andover. Andover's Andrew Bird (25) celebrated with fans after he scored a goal in first half action. . (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE
Two new state champions are assured in the boys’ and girls’ state soccer tournaments this week, but two defending champions remain in contention as well. ¶ The semifinals will be held Monday in the Metrodome for the boys’ Class 2A and 1A tournaments and the girls’ Class 1A tournament. The girls’ Class 2A semifinals are Tuesday. Finals in all four classes are Thursday. A look at the matchups:
Class 2A boys’ semifinals (Monday)
Andover (15-4-1) vs. North St. Paul (18-1-1), 4 p.m.
Andover at a glance: The Huskies are making just their second state tournament appearance but have become the giant-killers in this field. They knocked off top-ranked Blaine in their season finale, then ousted No. 1 seed Minneapolis Southwest in the state quarterfinals. Senior Andrew Bird (17 goals, nine assists) leads a trio of dynamic attackers.
North St. Paul at a glance: The Polars set a school record with 82 goals this season. Twins Justin and Tyler Oliver have been the keys to that attack, with Justin recording a state-best 38 goals. Midfielder Adam Hildebrandt is a tremendous complement to the pair, and netted the game-winner in a state quarterfinal victory over Prairie Seeds Academy.
Key to watch: Defeating the Polars — something only Hill-Murray accomplished this season, back on Sept. 3 — starts with keeping the Olivers in check. Keep an eye on Andover defender Ben Nivala’s ability to use long, accurate passes to create scoring opportunities for Bird and his fast running mates up front.
Edina (15-2-3) vs. Eastview (14-3-1), 6 p.m.
Edina at a glance: The Hornets, making their first state tournament appearance since 2002, squeeze opposing offenses. They have surrendered just 17 goals in 20 games, including a 1-0 quarterfinal shutout of Elk River/Zimmerman. Defender Nick Stastny made the Star Tribune All-Metro first team, and forward Reza Denkordi was selected all-state.
Eastview at a glance: The defending Class 2A state champion Lightning has hit its stride, going 9-1-1 in its past 11 games. And it showed some grit coming back for an 2-1 overtime victory against Owatonna. Forward Pierce Erickson and goalkeeper Kyle Lamott were Star Tribune All-Metro first-team selections.
Key to watch: Two teams of considerable talent and contrasting styles makes for an intriguing matchup. The game within the game could be Stastny marking Erickson in hopes the Lightning forward cannot add to his team-best total of 16 goals.
DAVID LA VAQUE
Class 2A girls’ semifinals (Tuesday)
Burnsville (17-0-3) vs. Lakeville North (14-2-3), noon
Burnsville at a glance: The tournament’s top seed averages 2.65 goals per game, led by senior midfielder Abby Soderholm. Perpetually in motion, the niece of coach John Soderholm has 10 goals and nine assists. Runners-up in 2011, the Blaze has made it its mission this season to win the school’s first title since 1993.
Lakeville North at a glance: This is the third consecutive state tournament appearance for the stingy Panthers, and they are supremely confident. The senior-laden defense has been responsible for 50 shutouts in the past four seasons and allowed only five goals this season.
Key to watch: Burnsville won this matchup 2-1 during the season, but Lakeville North goalkeeper Alexis Joyce deemed it her team’s worst performance of the season and is eager for revenge. Can the more experienced Panthers continue to confound high-scoring opponents?
Eden Prairie (12-5-2) vs. Minnetonka (15-2-2), 2 p.m.
About Eden Prairie: The Eagles, who were not ranked in the final coaches poll, split a pair of games with the third-seeded Skippers, losing 2-1 and winning 1-0. Key players include junior April Bockin (15 goals, seven assists) and senior Kendal Jacobus (five goals, six assists). Bockin has verbally committed to the Gophers. Jacobus will attend Lehigh next fall.
About Minnetonka: The sixth-ranked Skippers recorded 11 shutouts in their 15 victories, including a 1-0 blanking of Class 1A defending champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Senior Allison Haworth is the team’s primary goalkeeper. Scoring leaders include junior Ellen Mau (eight goals, six assists), ninth-grader Gabby Pitera (nine goals, two assists) and senior Elizabeth Endy (three goals, eight assists).
Key to watch: Minnetonka’s ability to keep Bockin and Jacobus in check. The duo combined on both goals scored by the Eagles in two regular-season matchups. The Skippers have perhaps the state’s fastest defender in Endy, which should go a long way toward minimizing Eden Prairie scoring chances.
Class 1A boys’ semifinals (MONDAY)
St. Paul Como Park (17-0-3) vs. Sartell-St. Stephen (16-2-2), noon
About St. Paul Como Park: The Cougars, who lost in the 2012 quarterfinals, were ranked No. 2 in the final coaches association poll. Junior Will Kidd had 21 goals and 10 assists during the regular season and was named St. Paul City Conference player of the year. He switched from his usual midfielder position to attacker this season.
About Sartell-St. Stephen: The unranked and fourth-seeded Sabres are making their second tournament appearance. Senior Kyle Erickson leads the team with 19 goals and 21 assists. Sophomore Colin Johnson minds the net. The team defeated defending champion Rochester Lourdes in the quarterfinals.
Key to watch: The Sabres’ counterattacking, long-ball style was effective at keeping defending champion Rochester Lourdes at bay in the quarterfinals, but top-seeded Como Park is relentless. Sartell cannot expect a close, one-goal game against the Cougars.
Waconia (17-1-2) vs. Hill-Murray (12-4-3), 2 p.m.
About Waconia: A fast, physical team that outscored opponents 57-8 during the regular season. Senior James Nash had a goal and four assists in Friday’s quarterfinal game against Hermantown. Senior forward Charlie Spurbeck and junior forward Anthony Shuster each scored two goals in the 5-0 victory.
About Hill-Murray: Reached the semifinals with a 1-0 shootout victory against Totino-Grace. An experienced team with 12 seniors that outscored opponents 10-2 in the section tournament. Senior midfielder Shae Bottum led the team with 12 goals in the regular season and recorded two hat tricks.
Key to watch: High-powered Waconia needs a quick start again against Hill-Murray, which has a strong defense and midfield that can control the pace of the game.
Class 1A girls’ semifinals (Monday)
Blake (16-3-1) vs. Totino-Grace (13-4-4), 8 a.m.
About Blake: The Bears were the No. 2 team in the final coaches association poll and the runner-up in the last year’s state tournament. Blake played to a draw against top-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s earlier this season. Scorers include senior Lydia Sutton and sophomore Sylvie Wallin, each with 11 goals, junior Maya Coyle (10 goals) and sophomore Annie Lyman (eight goals).
About Totino-Grace: The Eagles, ranked No. 7 by the coaches, are making their third consecutive appearance. They also played the Red Knights, losing 4-0 midway through the regular season. Sophomore Nicole Newman leads the team with 14 goals and eight assists. Junior Gabrielle Eisfelder minds the net and has recorded 12 shutouts.
Key to watch: Blake has allowed just nine goals all season, and only one team, Lakeville North, has scored more than one goal. Totino-Grace will need to limit Blake’s chances to score, get a big game from Eisfelder — who has 13 shutouts this season — and hope to capitalize on at least one of the few opportunities it gets.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s (16-3-1) vs. Mankato West (13-6-2), 10 a.m.
About Benilde-St. Margaret’s: The defending champion Red Knights were ranked No. 1 in the final coaches poll. Senior Kelly Pannek, the second-leading scorer in school history, has 44 points on 25 goals and 19 assists this season. Sophomore Aleksa Tataryn added 18 goals and 24 assists. Senior Angela Charley is the primary goalkeeper and has made 51 saves.
About Mankato West: The unranked Scarlets did not play any tournament qualifiers during the regular season. The Scarlets averaged 3.1 goals per game while allowing 1.25 per game. Senior Madison Burandt leads the offense with 28 goals and nine assists. Junior Aisha Abdo added nine goals and 14 assists. Senior Katie Lauer minds the net and has made 116 saves.
Key to watch: Even though Mankato West scored a school-record 67 goals this season, it cannot hope to outscore the Red Knights. The best hope for the Scarlets is to take a defensive posture, keep the game low-scoring and take their chances on getting a goal off a set piece or breakaway.
Tag(s): Mankato West Owatonna Sartell-St. Stephen Hill-Murray North St. Paul Rochester Lourdes Prairie Seeds Eden Prairie Edina Minnetonka Hermantown Minneapolis Southwest Totino-Grace Andover Blaine Elk River Burnsville Eastview Lakeville North St. Paul City St. Paul Como Park Park of Cottage Grove Blake Waconia Mankato West Owatonna Sartell-St. Stephen Hill-Murray North St. Paul Zimmerman Rochester Lourdes Prairie Seeds Eden Prairie Edina Minnetonka Hermantown Minneapolis Southwest Totino-Grace Andover Blaine Elk River Burnsville Eastview Lakeville North St. Paul City St. Paul Como Park Park of Cottage Grove Blake Waconia